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Messages appear to show Buffalo supermarket shooting suspect’s months-long plan to carry out attack

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More than 600 pages of messages thought to be written on the social media platform Discord by the man accused of killing 10 people at a supermarket in Buffalo appear to show his months-long, unfolding plan to kill as many Black people as he could. The messages, which begin in November, are laced with racist and anti-Semitic tirades. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland said this weekend that federal authorities are investigating the shooting as “a hate crime and an act of racially-motivated violent extremism.” Of the 13 people killed or wounded, 11 were Black. 

The messages appear to have been compiled into a word document by the suspect, 18-year-old Payton Gendron. Authorities tell CBS News they are investigating the messages and believe them to be authentic.

On March 1, the messages show, the suspected gunman identified the Tops grocery store as “attack area 1” and said he will “shoot all blacks, leave 3 minutes tops.”

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According to the messages, the suspect traveled to Buffalo on March 8 to stake out the supermarket as one of three locations in the city where he could kill Black people. They include photos and hand drawn maps of the inside of the grocery store, as well a tally of the number of customers in the store based on race. 

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10 killed, 3 injured in mass shooting at Buffalo supermarket
Buffalo Police on the scene of a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, New York.

John Normile / Getty Images


The suspect also detailed the store’s security — and in what he writes was “a close call,” describes how he was approached by a security guard who asked what he was doing. 

The messages say the suspect decided in December to “carry out an attack against the replacers, and will even livestream the attack via discord and twitch.” 

On January 14, he wrote that “there is no turning back now, I am fully committed to using all my resources and power to commit this attack.” Five days later, he posted a picture of an assault rifle he says he bought at a gun store in Endicott, New York. The gun, a Bushmaster XM-15, is the same weapon he allegedly used in Saturday’s shooting. 

He originally chose March 15 for the attack, because it is three years to the day a gunman carried out mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, according to the messages. Yet the messages show he repeatedly decided to delay the attack for various reasons. 

By April 28, he questioned why he hadn’t been approached by the FBI.

On May 1, messages show the suspect is still hashing out his plan, wondering whether he “should block…one of the backdoors of tops with my car?” 

“I would also try to attack a black elementary school, but I’m not sure how I would get in,” he added. 

U.S. President Biden visits Buffalo after a mass shooting
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden pay their respects to the 10 people killed in a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, on May 17, 2022.

LEAH MILLIS / REUTERS


The messages continued until a few days before the attack, with the final posts including photos of an assault rifle on which racist slurs were scrawled along with the names of other mass shooters.

Ten people were killed in the shooting, including a church deacon, the mother of the city’s former fire commissioner, and a “beloved” security guard who tried to incapacitate the shooter. Upon encountering police, the suspect put his gun to his chin, police said — but officers on the scene convinced him to put the gun down and he was taken into custody. 

He has been charged with murder in the first degree — the most severe murder charge under New York law — and has pleaded not guilty. 

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